How to Address Time Zone Conflicts with Remote Teams

How to Address Time Zone Conflicts with Remote Teams

Stellar communication is the holy grail of remote companies. Without having a traditional office in which employees can hang around the company watercooler, it’s imperative that companies offer ways in which their teams can communicate with each other. This gets much trickier, though, when team members are scattered across the globe. From London to Louisiana, Bombay to Boulder, how can remote teams address time zone conflicts?

Check out these five ways remote teams can address time zone conflicts:

1. Keep a schedule.

At some point, no matter how much work flexibility your company offers, there will come a time when you will hold all-staff meetings and need to have every team member on the call. Here is when keeping an excellent schedule can help. Have every staffer submit their schedule of when, more or less, they are working. Then look for times when almost everyone is available. Ask team members who aren’t typically “on” at that time to join the call so that they don’t miss anything. That way they feel included but don’t feel like they’ll have to change their working hours all the time.

2. Offer various types of communication.

As a remote company, it’s up to you to implement many different communication tools for your employees. Using just one or two can hinder communication efforts, so use various types, such as email, instant messaging, and chat programs (like Skype, Google chats, etc.). After all, each member of your team will most likely have a preference as to what type of communication tool they’ll want to use. Offering a vast assortment will ensure that each employee feels comfortable with his chosen communication tool—and will use it often.

3. Hire employees who have worked remotely.

While you can hire virtually anyone who is a good fit for a remote position, it’s a good idea to hire those with previous remote experience, particularly if that job candidate lives in a different time zone from other members of your team. Why? Well, a remote worker will understand that even though he has a flexible schedule, there will be times when he’ll have to switch up his workflow so he can accommodate meetings or urgent requests. He’ll have the ability to adapt more quickly—and successfully—than someone who is brand new to the remote work world.

4. Have one system constantly open.

Although it’s a good idea to offer many remote communication tools, it’s an even better idea to have one that is always available for usage. Chat rooms (like Sococo, for example) are good for employees who might be burning the midnight oil—or others who might be just starting their day. One communal place for them to gather, day or night, to discuss work (or their favorite TV show) can help build bridges, foster community among colleagues, and get work done, too.

5. Use collaboration tools.

You have one stellar employee who works in New York City. But when he goes on vacation, you suddenly need access to one of his files—and it’s on his local computer. When your team uses collaboration tools, like Google Drive or Dropbox, for example, you’ll never need to be stressed about time or time zones. It will allow instant access to whatever your team is working on and keep their productivity up, too.

Time zone conflicts with remote teams is not a new issue, but it shouldn’t be a stumbling block to your company’s success, either. There are ways for everyone to work on their own schedule and stay connected but still stay in sync, no matter where they live—or work.

By Jennifer Parris | Categories: Remote Management

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